How to Not Piss Anyone Off on Mother’s Day

Here’s the problem with Mother’s Day…it’s a day run by men. Is that sexist? Probably. But it’s also true. And not fair. Generally speaking, it’s women who work all year to keep things afloat and smooth and then one day we are supposed to just sit in bed and let a novice take the wheel.

Navigating the delicate social channels within multiple families is no small feat. There are a lot of mothers in extended families, and they don’t all want the day to go the same way. Moms with older kids, grandmas, and great grandmas tend to want to spend the day with their children/grandchildren. Moms with young kids (and this gets progressively truer as the age gets smaller) want a break from their offspring. Maybe they don’t want to be alone the whole day (though it’s tempting), but they want to give up the reins a bit. And definitely sleep in. So, there you are: husband/son/grandson, stuck right in the middle.

Your mother wants to meet for an 8 am church service and your wife wants to stay in bed until 10 sampling champagne recipes and your grandma wants everyone for brunch at Coco’s at 9 and you are in charge of striking a balance to keep the gals from using their mimosas as weapons. Happy Mother’s Day, indeed!


Here is what you need to know if you have kids.

Men: Yes, this is a holiday that you are expected to participate in. Your obligations to your wife include breakfast in bed, cleaning the kitchen after said breakfast, facilitating the making of a homemade card, and making brunch reservations. This does not change or alter your pre-existing holiday obligations to your mother or grandmother.

Women: This holiday is for you. But it is not a vacation day (it’s just easier to accept that fact from the get go). Your obligations include purchasing all necessary breakfast items, sharing your breakfast with all small persons, re-cleaning the kitchen and craft area after they do it wrong, and probably nagging your spouse to make brunch reservations. This does not alter your pre-existing holiday obligations to your mother or grandmother. Nor does it change your pre-existing obligations of being a mother. That still happens on this day. You will still have to pack the diaper bag, chase toddlers around a fancy restaurant, and wipe the various leaking parts of other persons.

If this is your first Mother’s Day (or your 100th, for that matter), you now truly understand what it’s like to be a mother and your gratitude for those ladies who have done the job already has grown immensely. You will want to “cheers” them and thank them and shake them until they tell you all the secrets of surviving this roller coaster. Men, back to you again: you must be prepared for extra emotions on this day. It is overwhelming to be thanked and give thanks and teach children how to thank—all in the same day. It is a thanking avalanche of feelings, so just keep the mimosas coming and have a good movie picked out for her to fall asleep to at 8:30 pm.

The reality is there is no amount of thank you that can be packed into one day that would be sufficient to thank a mother. Not even Kanye-level gifting would equal what most moms do in a year. The truth is that mothering is not about being thanked. However, it’s also the truth that a homemade card with a misspelled “i lov u” will make us sniveling mom blobs.

As for juggling the day with wives and mothers, I propose a simple solution to the brunch dilemma. The eldest mother gets to decide where we all eat together. It’s a little known but powerful phenomenon called “trickle-up brunchonomics.” They’ve earned it. I look forward to my reign at the top of the totem pole, but will happily wait 50-70 years. No rush, it seems like a lot of pressure actually. But you, darling husband/son/grandson still must make the reservation. Have you done that yet? Well, have you?!